Monday, November 29, 2010

Texans' Andre Johnson Faces Discipline from League After Fight


With legitimate concern for head injuries and other possibly life-altering effects to the body that the physical game of can have on its professional players, the National Football League is increasing its efforts to discourage dangerous tackles and dirty play. Just ask James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his ever-lightening wallet. While players and coaches are still figuring out the new standards and what type of hit is going to warrant negative attention, one rule hasn't changed. Punching an opposing player in the face is going to get you in trouble.

Star receiver for the Houston Texans, Andre Johnson, apparently had enough of the constant poking and jawing by Cortland Finnegan, a cornerback for the Tennessee Titans. During the fourth quarter of yesterday's game, both men ripped the helmet off the other and Johnson landed a couple of impressive shots before referees and other players separated the two. Johnson and Finnegan were both ejected from the game and further discipline is expected.

Andre Johnson is known as a true professional who operates with respect and amazing play on the field. He apologized after the game, and acknowledged that his behavior was out of character. While Johnson's words were important and he offered the right response to the situation, there certainly was a team behind the scenes already set into motion discussing how to maintain Johnson's image and minimize the reprimand he receives from the league. It's a fact that these attorneys and agents play an important role in every athlete's life.

If you are a professional athlete who is facing a possible hit to your career or your reputation, you need to have an attorney experienced in sports law by your side. At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who are ready to help with contract negotiations, endorsement deals, fines and suspensions, and much more. Please contact us today!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Many Texans Take Premarital Course in Exchange for Discount on License

There are so many things a recently engaged couple in Texas does to prepare for their wedding day. The two must pick a date to exchange vows, select a venue for the reception, decide who is going to be a part of the wedding party, and where they are going to live once they are husband and wife. How many of these men and women, though, take part in a premarital course that is encouraged by the state government? According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, not many.

Two years ago, the state legislature in Texas passed a law that offered a discount in marriage license fees to couples who took part in the Twogether in Texas program. This subsidy was created at the same time that the fees in the state were raised, with the hopes that the increased cost would lead to many couples opting to take the course. Apparently, the discount has not been embraced as much as lawmakers had hoped, with only fifteen percent of marriage licenses in Texas being issued to people who completed the class. It seems the thirty dollars that would be saved is not enough incentive.

Under the best of circumstances, building a successful marriage and family takes work and dedication. Perhaps Twogether in Texas provides some relationship tools to couples who may need them at some point. Unfortunately, there may be instances in which legal intervention becomes necessary. If this is the circumstance in your home, the experienced family law attorneys at Bertolino LLP are ready to help you through this emotional and sensitive time. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office.

What are your thoughts on the state's incentive for couples to take a premarital course? Is this an effective tool in saving marriages? Is this a role state government should be playing?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wishes for a Wonderful Thanksgiving from Bertolino LLP


On the eve of this Thanksgiving holiday, all of us at Bertolino LLP want to wish you a wonderful day of rest and laughter. For those of you who are traveling, may your journeys be easy and may you arrive to your destinations safely and with as little arguing in the car as possible. For those who are separated from their family and other loved ones on this Thanksgiving, we hope that the distance is minimized by your thoughts for one another.

We all have so much for which to be thankful.

We live in a country that offers the same freedoms and opportunities to everyone regardless of their personal background or family tree. And, we have a system of justice that defends the rights of those who are not receiving this equal treatment we all deserve.

We are thankful for the men and women of the armed forces, who put their own lives on the line every day so that we may continue to enjoy the peace and prosperity that this country holds dear.

We are thankful for family and friends who enrich our lives, who encourage us to be better people, but who still love us when we fall short of our goals.

At Bertolino LLP, everyone in our Austin, Houston, and San Antonio offices hopes that you have time tomorrow, between the turkey and football, to remember the people and circumstances for which you are thankful in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cardiologist Accused by Texas Medical Board of Performing Unnecessary Heart Procedures


There are several professions whose members can say that they literally or figuratively hold the lives of others in their hands every day. There are judges who must determine if a convicted murderer should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in jail. There can be that one special teacher who motivates a child to go to college instead of drop out of school. And, members of our armed forces wake up every day with the charge of defending the lives of millions of people they will never meet. Another professional who regularly makes life-altering decisions is a doctor. And, when a physician is accused of making a fatal error, the consequences can be severe.

Dr. Samuel DeMaio, a prominent cardiologist in Austin, is being accused by the Texas Medical Board of performing unnecessary heart procedures on eight patients, with one patient dying following his time in Dr. DeMaio's care. In addition, five patients (it is not unclear whether or not they are among the patients) mentioned in the charges brought by the Medical Board) have filed malpractice suits in Travis County.

Dr. DeMaio is said to have planted multiple unneeded stints in more than one patient, performed x-rays that were not necessary, implanted an unneeded defibrillator, and made other poor medical decisions. The doctor has responded by saying that the procedures were necessary to deal with the complex circumstances and that he is only facing charges because his competition is angry about his plans to open a new hospital in 2012. We will have to wait and see on whose side the evidence falls.

If you are a medical professional and your record is being brought before the Texas Medical Board, you must seek experienced legal counsel to help you through the process. Your reputation and the career that you may have spent decades establishing are on the line. At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who have a strong background in appearing before the Texas Medical Board and they are ready to help you. Please contact our office today.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Divorce in the Public Eye

Sadly, there have been quite a few celebrities who have made the news recently as they announced their marital separations or intentions to divorce. The media has examined every rumor and angle concerning the personal lives of Christina Aguilera, Courtney Cox Arquette and David Arquette, and Billy Ray Cyrus. This week, two celebrities who call Texas home have filed their own divorce papers. San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker and his wife, actress Eva Longoria, are going their separate ways. Divorce is always a difficult and emotional experience for the families involved, but an added challenge exists when the process takes place under the microscope of a curious public eye.

Rather than continue to give credence to the rumor mill and discuss the allegations concerning who is to blame for the apparent end of this high-profile marriage, we just want to reinforce the idea that there are two people involved who are most certainly dealing with heartbreak and questions about what the future may hold. These same uncertainties and fears exist for divorcing couples who cannot shoot a three-pointer at the buzzer or have any experience acting on a popular television show.

During these times, when emotion understandably can take precedence over clear thought, it is important to have effective and compassionate legal counsel to walk through every step with you. If you are considering a divorce, please contact a family law attorney at our offices in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio to discuss your case. And, if you are a celebrity or athlete facing this upheaval in your personal life, we have entertainment attorneys who can work with you to protect your privacy and your public reputation. We look forward to helping you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Houston Man Charged with Stealing Mail from Collection Boxes


As the holiday season approaches (if you have entered a department store recently, you may think that it is already here), mailboxes soon will be filled with brightly colored envelopes containing cards that offer a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Holidays." You likely will receive many photos taken of your family members and friends all dressed in matching outfits and sitting by a Christmas tree, or sometimes photos of just their kids or pets. And, of course, there is the tearaway 2011 calendar that you can expect from your local real estate or insurance agent. Imagine if these paper holiday traditions were stolen from your mailbox in the hopes of discovering some cash or a money order. An arrest made on Monday decreased the chances of such a violation for the residents of Houston.

Morgan Pratka surrendered to authorities and now faces charges of possession of mail stolen from collection boxes in and around the Houston area. Pratka's alleged crimes were discovered after money orders that had been reported as missing or stolen showed up in his bank account. He apparently did not want to work too hard to hide the evidence.

Pratka is now in federal custody and faces a date in front of a federal judge. Tampering with the mail and the activities of the United States Postal Service is a serious matter, whether you steal your neighbor's magazines or thousands of dollars.

If you are facing federal charges of any kind, you need an experienced attorney who is prepared to defend your rights in this unique component of our justice system. The attorneys at Bertolino LLP have spent a lot of time defending clients in a federal courtroom and are ready to help you as well. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does Suspending the Licenses of DWI Suspects Work?


I have heard the argument made that the only people restricted by gun control laws are the law-abiding citizens who would be the ones to use the weapons responsibly. Criminals are going to buy and carry guns regardless of what the state or federal government tells them. If you agree with this perspective, you may reach the same conclusion regarding the suspension of drivers' licenses during DWI arrests. Men and women who find it acceptable to disregard the law and get behind the wheel of a car after drinking may not let a detail like the lack of a license preventing them from driving.

For this reason and many others, some state legislators, attorneys, and judges are beginning to speak out about the law, passed in 2001, that suspends the licenses of DWI suspects who fail or refuse to take an alcohol breath test. The number of drunken driving arrests has remained about the same over the past decade, so there is some doubt as to the effectiveness of this law as a deterrent.

Investigations into what happens when a driver has his license suspended shows that many of these people are successfully applying for occupational licenses, which puts them back on the road with little in the way of practical restrictions. Instead of a decrease in drunken driving arrests, the state is facing an increase in administrative costs associated with these hearings and appeals.

Obviously, there needs to be consequences for someone who chooses to drive after consuming alcohol, thereby putting the lives of other motorists in danger. Do you believe this automatic suspension for refusing the breathalyzer is effective? Or, should our lawmakers look at other ways to discourage those who are intoxicated from starting their engines?

If you have lost your license following a DWI arrest, you need effective legal representation to defend your rights in the courtroom. If you believe your arrest was not justified, we can help get you back on the road. Please contact one of our criminal defense attorneys in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio and we will get to work helping you today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

University of Houston Exchanges Cigarettes for Free Food



I think that we can safely say the verdict is in concerning the health problems associated with smoking cigarettes. There are not many people in 2010 who are going to refute the link between carbon and tar in your lungs and the development of lung cancer and various breathing problems. Despite these proven consequences, many young people continue to pick up the habit, particularly once they are away at college and they have escaped their parents' watchful eyes. Yesterday, some students and employees on the University of Houston campus took a step to help others around them become ex-smokers.

Several health organizations on campus worked together to offer free food in exchange for a student's pack of cigarettes. The groups also created displays showing graphic images of a smoker's versus a non-smoker's lungs and provided information about an available smokers' cessation program and a buddy program that was started to offer support and accountability. The one-day campaign was a part of the build-up to the national Great American Smokeout, which will be occurring on November 18.

Organizers said that about twenty smokers took advantage of their offer of barbeque and chips. The others chose to keep their cigarettes in their possession. Time will tell if the efforts of these local advocates has a lasting impact on the decisions that students make regarding their health.

Although the warnings about cigarette use are pretty clear, there are instances in which early signs of a problem are overlooked or misdiagnosed. If you believe that you did not receive correct and timely medical treatment, whether smoking practices are involved or not, the medical malpractice lawyers at Bertolino LLP can help. If you or a loved one has unnecessarily suffered due to a doctor's error, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

President George W. Bush and Kanye West Make Peace


I imagine that most of us say something at least once a week that we later reflect on and realize it was a statement for which we could have chosen our words differently or maybe kept to ourselves altogether. In most instances, these comments are quickly forgotten. However, in this age of Facebook and YouTube, it has become much harder to move past words that you regret. They may be forever on the Internet for the entire world to read or watch . . . over and over again. And, when you are a celebrity, that attention is magnified and your words become part of a lasting public image.

Everyone remembers the moment on national television, back in 2005, when Kanye West declared, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Mr. West was frustrated with the government's response to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. In his newly published memoirs, Decision Points, former President Bush points to that moment as one of the low points of his time as the leader of our country.

In an interview with The Today Show's Matt Lauer, Kanye West shared, "I didn't have the grounds to call him a racist." He admits that he got caught up in a time of high emotion. Five years later, however, these few moments in the media are still an issue for this famous entertainer.

If you are a celebrity in the public eye, you know that evey action, word, and relationship will be scrutinized. At some point, you may find yourself facing some fallout from your decisions and in need of legal representation to protect your career and your reputation. The entertainment lawyers at Bertolino LLP can help. We have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio and we are ready to help you with any legal hurdles you may be facing. Please contact us today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Two San Antonio Fathers Facing Charges of Killing Their Infants



It was heartbreaking to read the story over the weekend about two fathers who stand accused in the deaths of their own infant children. While any senseless act of violence that takes place in Texas is upsetting, the emotions are certainly heightened when the most innocent among us are the targets. Both men live in the San Antonio area and are looking at capital murder charges that could result in the death penalty or, at the very least, a lifetime spent behind prison bars.

Matthew Resendez, age nineteen, is currently in jail based on the charge of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. With his three-month-old son taken off life support on Friday night, prosecutors are now taking the case back to the grand jury with the intention of instead receiving a capital murder indictment for Resendez.

In the other case, 22-year-old Rafael Trevino was arrested on Friday on a capital murder charge after his seven-week-old daughter was found dead with a broken left clavicle and hemorrhaging in the brain. It is unlikely that he will be released soon, with his bail being set at one million dollars.

The purpose of this post is not sensationalize these tragic incidents , but rather to encourage a conversation on the responsibilities of a parent and what steps can be taken to prevent these violent acts from ever taking place. And, of course, the discussion is done while keeping in mind that both of these young men are innocent until proven guilty.

What are your thoughts? Is there a way to better prepare these men for the responsibility of caring for an infant? Do you think we view mothers and fathers differently when it comes to the expectations we have for them as parents?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Operation Safe Halloween Nabs Seven Convicted Sex Offenders



It should go without saying that we all want our children to be safe every day of the year. We want to live in communities where our kids can ride their bikes, head out to the playground, and throw a ball in the yard and not have to worry about being bothered by an adult with bad intentions. On Halloween night, this need to promote vigilance seems to be even more heightened. With boys and girls wearing the costumes of their favorite superhero or Disney princess, we want the experience to be fun and safe. The kids sometimes knock on the doors of people who are strangers to them and the state of Texas has taken measures to make sure those answering the knocks have only the best intentions.

Operation Safe Halloween, which was a joint effort between the Attorney General's Fugitive Unit and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division, arrested seven convicted child sex offenders who did not stay inside their homes and away from trick-or-treaters last Sunday night.

While, thankfully, there was no mention of any of the men arrested engaging in any inappropriate activity with children, they failed to meet the strict parole regulations that were in place for this special night. Our state's law enforcement should be applauded for taking these extra measures to make sure our kids had a safe environment for their fun night out.

At Bertolino LLP, we are glad to know there is strict enforcement of all laws that work to protect children. We also know that every person who has been accused of a crime is entitled to a strong defense and an assertion of all legal rights. If you have been accused of a sexual offense, or are now facing a jail sentence due to a parole violation based on an earlier conviction, the criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Houston Rapper Sentenced for Wire Fraud


What happens to rappers when their lucrative careers in the music industry are either fading or have come to an end altogether? Some go on to produce other artists, others make the transition into acting in movies or on television. And, at least one performer in this genre decided that his new career would be pretending to sell electronics to customers overseas. This last option is not recommended.

Willliam James Dennis, also known as Willie D, was once a part of the Houston rap group called Geto Boys. The group enjoyed their greatest success in the early part of the 1990s and even drew the attention of some politicians who were not fans of their music. But, in recent years, Dennis found it necessary to find another source of income. He got registered as a seller on eBay and marketed electronics to foreign buyers. After his customers would transfer money into his account, the promised merchandise never arrived. Eventually, Dennis would cut off all communication.

Dennis was accused of defrauding 35 people of their money and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December 2009. He now has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison and he is paying restitution.

At Bertolino LLP, we have experienced attorneys who are ready to assist you if you find yourself involved with any of the legal issues at play in this case. If you have been the victim of deceptive trade practices, we can help. If you are a celebrity who requires an attorney who can help with the delicate issues of privacy and public relations, we can help. If your case is a federal one and you want to appeal your sentence, we have attorneys with an extensive background in this area as well. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today if we can be of assistance.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Texas Photographer Sues Over Use of His Image

If you are a resident of Texas, take a moment to look at your vehicle inspection sticker when you get a free moment. Does it have a silhouette of a cowboy on it? If so, you have this item in common with four to five million other Texans. And, collectively, you have garnered the attention of rather unhappy photographer.

David K. Langford is a photographer who is suing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Department of Public Safety for using an image, without his permission, that he created in 1984. The copyrighted photo, entitled "Days End 2," was scanned by an inmate who found the picture in an old copy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. Prisoners then used this image as the background for millions of stickers that were issued to Texas drivers in more than a dozen counties.

Langford claims that he has tried to reach state officials multiple times but has not received any response. He says that he would have been more than happy to make a deal for the use of his image but now is forced to take his grievance to court as a last resort.

When you create a piece of art or develop a unique idea, you deserve to be acknowledged and compensated for others' use of your brainchild. At Bertolino LLP, we have experienced attorneys who work in the area of contract law and who can work with you in securing profitable licensing and distribution agreements. If someone has expressed interest in using your work, or if you feel that someone is already using your work without your permission, please contact our offices in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio today and let us help you!